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United States - Wisconsin

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The Mambo Surfers

The Mambo Surfers have been making music together since Ron Jones and Saji Villoth first met in 1996 at the Coffee House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their original music has always been genre-bending, drawing on their combined influences ranging from Bollywood to blues, Sufi chants to Native American chants, Bedouin songs, ragas, polkas, punk, ska, reggae, surf, samba, and of course, rock ‘n roll.

Ron, is Native American, of Hochungra descent. His lyrics reflect the storyteller’s tradition that comes from his heritage. He is fluent on guitar and harmonica and other stringed instruments as well. He is a guitarist who honed his chops woodshedding and sitting in with countless other players. He has worked with dance troupes, producers, and other musicians and toured the Far East with his band, Acoustic Warriors. A respected luthier in Southeast Wisconsin, he counts among his clients many prominent local, regional and touring musicians.

Saji developed his lyricism and sense of melody listening to various types of music growing up in South India and Kuwait. He has long been aware that music is a powerful language, one that bridges many lands and many tongues. Saji’s past includes time in radio, as a solo artist, and as band member in a number of groups in India, Kuwait and the US.

From their first jams together, Ron and Saji have known that they wanted to write original music for discerning listeners. The band targets audiences that love diverse music and understand how music reflects emotion and thought in an exciting way.

Darrell “Skate” Williams, has been with the Mambo Surfers since 2008, although he’s been a friend of Ron’s for 25 years. His gospel, funk and jazz background, provides solid bass and vocals to the lineup, and his exuberance on stage provides the audience with entertainment as well as great sounds.

Lon Couillard, with his decades of country, folk and polka experience, was brought in specifically for The PTSD Songbook. The new songs for the project required a musician with his inventive drums and percussion playing. He often makes the instruments he needs to produce sounds he’s seeking, rather than rely on a conventional drum kit.

Their first album, Twelve Tales From... was released in 1999 and in 2000, the Mambo Surfers won the Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s (WAMI) “Ethnic/World Group of the Year” award. Today, they have exploded all their previous boundaries with The PTSD Songbook.

All the Surfers agree with Lon when he says, “Playing original music is the greatest feeling possible for a musician -- to perform music heard coming from only one place in the universe.”